Teaching to the Holistic Self. A Case Study of a Critical Social Work Classroom


For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.


Learning takes place through action, but it is driven by emotion.

Zull (2011, p. 54)


Threaded throughout this book is a growing consensus on the need for applied, participatory, and holistic approaches to educating social workers and other helping professionals. Positioned uniquely on the educator-student spectrum, we seek to contribute to this book by presenting a lesson plan on the practice of critical social work wherein students' cognitive and emotional selves are embraced and invited to the stage. We begin with describing pedagogy and theater of the oppressed as content that can be covered and methods that can be used in social work classrooms. As we do so, we offer our reflections on the possibilities of such classroom experiences to enact transformation of learning (and, by extension, social work practice), making a connection to the recent advances in the neuroscience oflearning. Through our synthesis ofliterature on neuroscience, practice, pedagogy, and social change and our own learning and teaching experiences, we begin to visualize the process of holistic learning as we see it.

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